Man, this is the cutest intro page I have ever seen! But seriously, Arata...onigiri?? Lol, Shinobu is having octopus balls...
Taichi still can't believe that Chihaya has taken two cards from the Queen.
Attack after attack. Take the flow of the game into your hands...
The crowd is starting to murmur amongst themselves that the Queen's opponent is starting to regain her will to fight. They are, after all, high school freshmen. But some are incredulous that Chihaya will be able to turn the tide when she's still got 23 cards. They marvel that even halfway through the match, Chihaya is able to make a comeback and hasn't lost the will to fight.
Judging by the look on Chihaya's face, the Queen surmises that Chihaya wants to take them all. Taichi laments (again) that Chihaya doesn't know how to play with a poker face. The crowd also notices that a lot of time has also passed. Since this is a timed game, all the Queen has to do is play halfheartedly and she'd still win since there is such a large difference in their number of cards.
The Queen's aura intensifies. Everyone shuts up at that point.
"For my love I reach out, and pick..."
Chihaya realizes it's another "mountain" card and she and the Queen reach for it at the same time. Unfortunately the Queen reaches it first. Taichi though the tides had turned in her favor, but now, the disparity between them is even greater.
Chihaya grabs the next card, much to everyone's surprise, proving she hasn't lost her momentum. Taichi believes that if she can put a dent in the disparity between them it becomes easier to take another card.
As the syllables gradually change, Chihaya is able to discern the first word, and take the card before the second syllable.
(TN: I think that's what he said.... -_-;)
As she runs after nother card, Chihaya realizes that because the Queen had dominated the playing field, Chihaya had little opportunity before this to get up and exersise her body. (TN: She says, "在兢伎線當中 -- zai jing ji xian dang zhong" which I translate to mean "I have found freedom in the line between battle and skill" or freedom in the midst of competition -- a sort of battle ground nirvana...)
She wants to feel more and more free, and wonders if this is what it means to be "powerful."
Cut scene: At the end of their game Chihaya and Shinobu bow.
In the end, Chihaya could only take 5 cards. (TN: What?? So that last chapter was only a teaser??) So, the difference between them was 20 cards. Thereafter, Shinobu calmly walks out of the hall...until she turns the corner. Then she races over to the registrant's table to look very closely at a particular card, giving quite a shock to the attendant.
So it's you...Mizusawa High School's Ayase Chihaya. Chihaya...Chihaya...Chihaya!! How many cards did you take from me? Next time, I won't let you get even one!!
When Chihaya comes out again Shinobu greets her with a smiling face. But Chihaya also compliments Shinobu's "Snow-Snow" shirt and makes her blush. Onlookers whisper, "That thing has a name?" and "Someone recognizes it?"
In the meantime, Taichi is running around looking for Chihaya calling out her name in his head. (As some tournaments are ongoing, those in the hallways are not allowed to make any noise) He wonders why though it was Chihaya that lost by 20 cards, he feels as though he was the one who was defeated. But still, he had no idea she could play at that level.
She should be OK, right? he asks himself, concerned. But he goes to find her anyway and spots her in one of the mini-lounges on a 2nd floor landing.
He thinks she is sleeping but she was sitting by herself, giant tears falling from her eyes and mumbling as she stares at her playing hand, "Straight line...perfectly straight. Memorize it! Memorize it! Faster! Listen carefully! You have to try harder! Harder!!" At this point she can't hold it back and cries into her hand.
Taichi is speechless.
Chihaya recalls some of the conversations they've had about karuta up until this point. She was so surprised that the Queen was her age. Taichi once asked her if she was even serious about it all, or if she was just following Arata's lead.
When I face her...
What can I do?
What can I do to beat her??!!
Taichi watches her and thinks, Today...Chiyaha's aspirations have finally...become her real life's goal!
Taichi thinks back on the words Arata wrote on the box of cakes he left behind for Chihaya. "I will see you again when we compete. -Arata"
He leaves Chihaya to her OCD behavior.
Cut scene: Back at the A rank competition
Sudo faces the Queen. Not surprisingly, she beats him. He tells her that he thought she would've gone easy on her "senpai" since it's his last year. She laughs and says because he is very strong, she thought she was going to lose, so she was breaking out in a cold sweat. This pisses Sudo off because the disparity between them was 12 cards. (TN: Can't believe he did better than Chihaya....)
The crowd is talking about Shinobu and her skills. They also eye Chihaya warily as she continues to talk to herself in a corner and wave her arms back and forth. (-_-;)
Chihaya is interrupted by Kana-chan in the midst of her "zoning." Kana is put out that she was eliminated in the 3rd round, but even more grumpy that Chihaya didn't come see her. Chihaya tells her she's super hungry but Kana says it's not time to eat yet. Taichi is in the midst of competing! She urges Chihaya to come with her and root for him.
While playing, Taichi recalls a conversation he had with Harada Sensei.
"Even if I spend all my youth training, I can never be as good as Arata."
"Tch. Tell me that after you've actually tried!"
Harada-sense, can I really do it? Through losses and tears, we can still move forward.
He recalls Arata's face and expression when he rushed to Chihaya's side when she fainted yesterday.
Can I progress enough to face Arata?
Gawd, this chapter was super hard to translate as well. I have newfound admiration for scanlation groups, though I used to be a member. But I only proofread, so to actually do the translating is so...wow. Hard.